July 9, 2017 11:03 pm
Updated: July 10, 2017 4:26 pm

What you should know about radon gas

Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and Saskatchewan is a hotspot.

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There could be a potentially deadly killer in your home that you might not know about.

Radon is an odourless and colourless gas. It’s the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and southern Saskatchewan is a hotspot.

It’s created by the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil. As radon escapes into the atmosphere, it can seep into your home through cracks.

Radon levels in your home don’t depend on your neighbourhood or whether your house is old or new, Frank Kirkpatrick, a professional radon tester, said.

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“You can’t go by ‘this house has it, that house is going to have it.’ It does not work that way. You can’t tell from one house to the next and you can’t look at a house and predict it. So every house has to be tested to find out,” he said.

To find out how much radon is in your home, you can buy a tester for about $50 from the Saskatchewan Lung Association.

“You simply place it in the lowest level of your home where you spend three or four hours a day,” Jill Hubick, Saskatchewan Lung Association’s spokeswoman, said. “You want to keep it there for at least three months.”

The radon detector is then sent into a laboratory. If your home’s radon levels are high, sealing cracks might help, Kirkpatrick said, but severe cases will likely need a depressurization of the soil below the house.

“We put this vacuum on underneath the house and it’s a continuous vacuum that runs 24/7. And the radon just kind of migrates to this point of vacuum, and the fan blows it to the atmosphere,” Kirkpatrick said.

According to Canadian guidelines, a home should have no more than 200 becquerels per cubic meter. Kirkpatrick said he’s tested homes in Saskatchewan that are in the thousands.

Results after mitigation usually take about 48 hours, Kirkpatrick said.

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